School Nutrition

Tennessee's School Nutrition program is responsible for providing nutritious meals and snacks for students in public and private schools, as well as residential and child care institutions. School Nutrition administers the USDA's National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program and Afterschool Snack Program across the state. All public schools in Tennessee are on the National School Lunch Program, which provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to children each school day.

Nutrition standards set forth by the USDA require most schools to increase the availability of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free and low-fat fluid milk in school meals; reduce the levels of sodium, saturated fat, and trans fat in meals; and meet the nutritional needs of school children within their calorie requirements.

For a detailed description of these federal requirements, see the Nutrition Standards in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs.

For Parents

Learn more about free and reduced-priced meal eligibility and read answers to frequently asked questions.

Community Eligibility Provision

For information on CEP, including a toolkit for districts and frequently asked questions, visit the CEP page.

Additional Information

Important contact information:

·         For nutrition program-specific questions, contact the Department’s Nutrition hotline number at 800-354-3663. It is available daily from 7:00am to 4:30pm CT. Or, email

·         The Department of Education has disseminated guidance to district leaders to best support their students, schools, and communities. For more information, please visit this website.



Below you will find waiver guidance and waiver request forms for the 2022-23 school year.

For more information related to waivers Tennessee has on file with USDA please visit this website:

Available Resources:

Strategies and Considerations for Reopening School Nutrition Programs

Meal Service Best Practice Examples

Farm to School during COVID-19

Regional Nutrition Consultants

New School Food Authority/Local Education Agency Process Chart

The chart below is meant to guide the process for new school food authorities (SFAs) to prepare their site(s) for the upcoming school year.

Process Step Required Forms and Topics Due Date
Step 1: Contact the state agency (SA) to express interest in school nutrition programs or go to the Tennessee Meals Counting and Claiming homepage and select the "Interested in Applying?" link. Complete the prescreening questionnaire with SA with this link.

Oct. 1- CMO/ Vended Meal Company/FSMC


Jan. 1- Self- Operation

Step 2: Complete new SFA informational training session with the assigned regional consultant and contract specialist. This meeting can include the school nutrition supervisor and the director of schools. To set up a meeting, email the state agency.

Topics to be discussed:

·       USDA Hiring Standards for School Nutrition Supervisors

·       School Meal Program regulations and program types

·       Administrative Review (audit) requirements during the first year of operation

·       Operational calendar

·       Charter Management Organization (CMO), Food Service Management Contract (FSMC), and Vended Meal contract process and timeline, if applicable. (Do not enter into any CMO, vended meal, or FSMC contracts without the review and approval of such contracts by the state agency’s contract specialist.)

·       Agreement to Operate School Nutrition Programs


More information can be found at:

Oct. 15- CMO/Vended Meal Company/ FSMC


Feb. 1- Self- Operation

Step 3: Schedule a meeting with the state agency’s contract specialist to review detailed FSMC contract requirements.

To set up a meeting, email the state agency.

(Only applies to CMO, Vended Meal Contract, and FSMC)

Review requirements at: Click on Food Service Management Company.

Nov. 15 - CMO/ Vended Meal Company/FSMC
Step 4: Schedule three 2-hour new SFA training sessions with SA. These training sessions are mandatory. A new SFA application will not be approved until all training is completed. Training sessions must be scheduled by Jan. 1. Training sessions will be held at the SFA or through Microsoft Teams.

 Topics to be discussed:

·          Tennessee: Meals, Accounting, and Claiming (TMAC) system.

·          Direct Certification download

·          Community Eligibility Provision (CEP)

·          7 CFR 226, 210, 245, 220, 215, 200, 247 School Nutrition Program regulations

·          Financial accountability

·          Completion of the SFA Application Packet

·          Certification of Compliance Worksheets and Menu Development

·          School Nutrition Program resources on TDOE webpage

·          FSMC regulatory requirements and RFP timeline (if applicable)

Scheduled - Jan. 1

Completed - May 1

Step 5: Submit the FSMC Request for Proposal (RFP) draft to SA for review and approval.


(Only applies to CMO, Vended Meal Contract, and FSMC)

Send to SA for approval:

·          Food Service Management Contract

·          Contract Attachments

·          Site Data Form

·          Delivery schedule

·          21-day cycle menu breakfast and lunch

·          Nutrition standards and meal pattern

·          Claim for reimbursement data, if applicable


FSMC prototype located at This is located under "Vended School Meal Service Prototype Invitation for Bid."


Jan. 1

Step 6: After SA approves the FSMC, the SFA will advertise the bid. Final contract must be reviewed and approved by SA before execution.

(Only applies to CMO, Vended Meal Contract, and FSMC)

  March 1
Step 7: Submit Certification of Compliance worksheets to SA for approval. June 1
Step 8: Complete site visit for meal observation and program documentation review with SA.   SA must observe all school meal programs and associated documentation at the SFA. Corrective actions due to findings during meal observation must be corrected before meals may be claimed for reimbursement. Prior to approval of SFA Application Packet and submission of claims for reimbursement

*If the potential SFA starts school after the listed date, the mandatory site visit must take place during the first week of operation.

If the potential SFA fails to file any of the above forms by July 31, the SFA may not be approved to operate the National School Lunch Program for the upcoming school year.

The Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act, as amended by the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA), requires a unified accountability system designed to ensure that participating school food authorities (SFAs) comply with National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP) requirements. The Act also requires an accountability system that conducts Administrative Reviews to evaluate Program requirements for NSLP and SBP during a three-year cycle. A summary from each district's most recent administrative review can be found below.


For Parents

School nutrition programs are an economical way to provide a significant amount of the student's daily nutritional requirements.

For Teachers

Good nutrition increases students willingness and ability to learn.

For Schools

Nutrition is an integral part of education, contributing substantially to the health and well-being of students.

For the Local Economy

School nutrition programs act as a vast market for locally purchased foods, supplies, and equipment, as well as providing additional jobs in the community.

For Farmers

School nutrition programs utilize available commodities in the lunch and breakfast meals.

Each school year, millions of meals are served across the state through the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program. In order to highlight the hard work school nutrition professionals put forth to provide nutritious meals to all students, we have compiled the number of meals served from last school year. Please take a moment to see how many school meals were served across the state for the 2019-2020 school year per School Food Authority. The data is broken down to show school lunches and school breakfasts, respectively. Also, districts that operate Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) either district-wide, or operate CEP in specific schools within the district have been noted within the chart.

Many schools and districts in Tennessee partner with the community's local food producers to serve locally grown foods in school cafeterias.

In accordance with federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity.

Program information may be made available in languages other than English. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication to obtain program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language), should contact the responsible state or local agency that administers the program or USDA’s TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TTY) or contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.

To file a program discrimination complaint, a Complainant should complete a Form AD-3027, USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form which can be obtained online at:, from any USDA office, by calling (866) 632-9992, or by writing a letter addressed to USDA. The letter must contain the complainant’s name, address, telephone number, and a written description of the alleged discriminatory action in sufficient detail to inform the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights (ASCR) about the nature and date of an alleged civil rights violation. The completed AD-3027 form or letter must be submitted to USDA by:

  1. mail:
    U.S. Department of Agriculture
    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
    1400 Independence Avenue, SW
    Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;
  2. fax:
    (833) 256-1665 or (202) 690-7442 or
  3. email:


This institution is an equal opportunity provider.



USDA prohibits discrimination against its customers. If you believe you experienced discrimination when obtaining services from USDA, participating in a USDA program, or a program that receives financial assistance from USDA, you may file a complaint with USDA. To file a program discrimination complaint, please email the USDA Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at or Shaundraya Hersey with the Tennessee Department of Education’s Office of General Counsel at

What is P-EBT

Short for Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer, P-EBT is a federally funded COVID-19 relief program made possible through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Using P-EBT cards the program provides nutritional assistance to National School Lunch Program participants and qualifying families to replace school meals missed due to COVID-19 related events.

Similar to a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) EBT or debit card, P-EBT cards can be used to purchase food at participating grocery stores, authorized retailers and online retailers that accept SNAP.  Parents and caregivers should keep their P-EBT card to be used until the P-EBT program is discontinued.

Operation of the program is approved on a state-by-state basis, for each program timeframe. In Tennessee, the Department of Human Services (TDHS), in collaboration with the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE), operates the P-EBT according to federal approval, guidelines and timelines.


This section may be used for reports of fraud related to Child Nutrition Programs associated with the National School Lunch Program.

Tennessee citizens may report suspected fraud related activities to the department by either phone or email.

Phone: 800-354-3663


For more information pertaining to fraud, waste, and abuse please visit this website 

For more information pertaining to Child Nutrition Program Integrity please visit this website